Here’s a poorly kept secret for you: at GodisaGeek, we love the PS Vita. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying we favour it in any way, just that from the beginning, we’ve been excited by the device, because it has the power to bring home console experiences to the handheld in a different way to the 3DS – which is also excellent, before anyone asks.
So the PS Vita slim is of interest to us, because it appears, on the surface, to solve nearly all the complaints we actually have with the device. Unfortunately, while it does indeed improve in many areas, it is let down by one key, vital element – which we’ll come to later.
First up, form factor. It’s lovely to hold thanks to the reduction in weight and general size. It has to be held to be believed, but you have to imagine it’s as light as they could have possibly made it. Comparisons don’t require any pre-warning, anyone who holds the PS Vita or the new slim model, will immediately notice the difference.
Less obvious is the actual “slim” nature of the device. It’s noticeably thinner, which adds to the general feel of the device. I’ve always found that my hands would become uncomfortable after long play sessions due to the weight, but this new model all but eradicates that issue. No more crab-like hand cramps for me, hurrah. Speaking of which, the longer battery life means that the new-found comfort can extend how long you can actually play for. It’s a minor thing, as the battery of the Vita wasn’t terrible to begin with, but there was room for improvement – which Sony have done.
Elsewhere, the Start and Select buttons have been designed to be less fiddly. In truth, they are – but this is a minor upgrade and they still aren’t perfect. The rest of the face buttons are untouched, as is the D-Pad and the analog sticks, which is to be expected as there was little wrong with them in the first place.
One major change is that the rear touchpad is now much smaller. The tiny grips that you were supposed to position your fingers on to hold the PS Vita have doubled in size which impacts on the size of the rear touch – hence it being smaller. Few games make excellent use of the rear touchpad, and when they do they are awkward. The size change here doesn’t pose much of a problem, in fact it actually improves things, because you won’t touch the rear pad accidentally as much any more. You’re still going to be better off switching off any optional rear touch controls (FIFA, for example), but should you forget, there will be less frustration.
A further improvement comes from the new micro-USB slot at the bottom. Proprietary cables are always annoying, and the ability to charge the PS Vita Slim without that original cable (that you can accidentally plug in upside down, thus not actually charging the thing) is a plus point, but one that – let’s be honest – should have been there to begin with.
Then we come to the screen. Oh dear. Now, let’s not go so far as to say the LCD screen looks bad, except, well, it does if you put it next to the original Vita’s OLED screen. It just looks so… washed out. Sure, if you’ve never seen a Vita in action before, you’re still going to be wowed by games like Uncharted, WipEout, Killzone Mercenary, etc – but even from the very first moment of seeing the home screen, the LCD is inferior looking.
This wouldn’t even be a problem if the slim was substantially lower priced, but even the inclusion of the 1GB internal memory comes with issues. 1GB isn’t a lot, but will be fine if you plan to not download any games (if you just use it for save games, etc), but plug in a memory card and the internal storage will be bypassed.
VERDICT: The question you have to ask yourself is: Is this actually an upgrade? And for the most part it is. In fact, I’d happily trade up to a slim if not for that screen. We’ve said it umpteen times before, but the OLED screen really was the shining light on the Vita, so to downgrade to an LCD that brings with it motion blur, and a desaturated look, is a disappointment.
If you can afford to, and if there are still any in the market, the original Vita is still a wonderful device. If not, and if you’ve never used a Vita before, the Slim will do you fine. Either way, the PS Vita is going from strength to strength and is a device any gamer should own – and with a huge, ever-growing library of excellent games to enjoy, this is the perfect time to get a PS Vita.
Review sample provided by publisher.